I'm boycotting boycotts after Kaepernick's Nike rant!by J.W. Miller on 07/08/19
A couple weeks ago, I suffered the inevitable fate that most active golfers face from time to time. I blew out my favorite pair of golf shoes. The soles gradually slipped apart and no matter how much Gorilla glue I applied, nothing could keep them together. They aren’t the only golf shoes I have. I’ve been rotating the same three pairs for a couple of years, but they were probably my favorite pair. I bought them when I was traveling and had forgotten to pack golf shoes, so I traveled to the nearest sporting goods store and bought a pair of Foot Joy saddles for about $39.
That was eight years ago, and they have served me well. But since I was going to buy new golf shoes, I looked at the heel wear on my regular running shoes and decided I’d just buy a new pair of those as well. What kind of shoes I would buy was not a question until last week when the well-known opinion-maker Colin Kaepernick issued another opinion.
It seems that his sponsor, Nike, announced it would release a commemorative shoe on the Fourth of July that honored Betsy Ross’ original 13-star flag. You probably read the stories and whether you agree with the former 49ers QB previous stances or not, you might have raised an eyebrow after Nike buckled and pulled the shoes off the racks.
The action has prompted a call to boycott Nike for pulling a product that their in-house protestor believes promotes injustice. Nike could have avoided some major grief if owner Phil Knight had invited Kaepernick out to his yacht and said: “Colin, pal, it’s not good business to diss Betsy Ross. Did you know she was an anti-war Quaker and also an abolitionist? You two might have knelt together in the old days.” Judging by Nike’s action, neither Knight nor his crack marketing staff knew anything about Betsy Ross either. But a week later, Nike stock is up 2% which equates to a $3 billion increase in asset value. So was this a rant or a ruse to bump the stock?
Either way, I had a decision to make, and I did. Rather than throw up my hands in righteous indignation like the grumpy old man I am trying not to be, I’m going to buy their shoes, anyway. First the practical reason: I’ve run in Nike shoes for years because I like their performance and durability. The second reason: I am boycotting boycotts. If we pattern our buying habits after our politics, we will be denying ourselves a basic American privilege to enjoy products that may include certain kinds of shoes, food or airline travel, but we'll get to all that in a minute.
Such boycotts are not confined to one side of the political fence. Whether you look at the world from the right side, left side or center of the street, there is a boycott for you! Chick-Fil-A has experienced several boycotts, one by anti-religionists who protested the restaurant’s policy to honor the biblical seventh day by closing on Sundays. Not sure if the policy violates the separation of Church and Steak, but I don’t eat at Chick-Fil-A, either. On Sundays. Chick-fil-A also got into trouble with the LGBT community for donating to certain groups that the protesters believed discriminate against them. Among those so-called discriminatory groups were the Fellowship of Christian Athletes. Please?
Speaking of Christian athletes, I am a Presbyterian elder and several years ago, I disagreed with our General Assembly’s decision to divest themselves of investments in companies that do business with Israel. The stated purpose was to influence the Israeli government’s policies against Palestine, so if I bought a Motorola product or drove on roads constructed in part by Caterpillar earth-moving equipment – among the offending companies - I was going to hell!
My denomination has also urged a boycott of Wendy’s because the restaurant buys tomatoes from Mexico instead of abused pickers in America. So when I’m driving down the road and get an urge for my favorite Asiago Chicken Sandwich, I should think about where Wendy’s buys their tomatoes? Give me the Asiago Chicken meal with a medium drink and fries, but hold the tomato?
Remember when some conservative religious groups urged a boycott of Starbucks because the company’s symbols supposedly contained satanic designs? I think that’s only on the double Heath Bar Pineapple Mocha latte which probably deserves a boycott because it sounds evil. If you agreed with the NRA’s suggestion that schools should arm security guards and even some teachers to discourage violence in schools, you are no longer welcome to rent cars from Avis, Enterprise or Budget, spend the night at a Best Western or Wyndham Hotels, fly United or Delta Airlines, buy Symantec products or shop at Walmart, all companies who came out against the recommendation.
This will never end as long as we have the freedom to protest whatever we want, but one thing is certain. This summer, I have flown on Delta airlines, shopped at Walmart, eaten at Wendy’s, spoken with an old friend who was active in the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, and I will soon purchase new Nike running and golf shoes. All of which means that my policy of boycotting the boycotts has probably ticked off just about everybody I know.